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Let them eat cake!

Posted on 09 Sep 2013

Rachael Ireland, PR Account Manager at ICG

When I heard that Marketing Lancashire, the Destination Management Organisation for Lancashire, had organised a series of free workshops aimed specifically at the retail industry, which would be led by retail expert and inspirational speaker and winner of Innovator of the Year, Kate Hardcastle, I couldn't wait to attend with ICG's client, The Mall Blackburn.

The three hour workshop was hosted at Brockholes Village Nature Reserve in Samlesbury, Preston and was held at its floating conference centre which overlooked the reserve's beautiful lake - I'll certainly be returning with the family for a stroll around the grounds, followed by a coffee and cake in its cafe.

I'd done my homework on Kate so before I even met her, I was full of admiration of her achievements and impressive CV. Just to give you a quick overview, in addition to co-founding the business transformation organisation - Insight with Passion - Kate is Tesco's Enterprising Mum of the Year and has won 17 national awards including Woman of Influence 2013. Regarded as one of the UK's leading commercial and marketing experts, the Yorkshire lass really does know her stuff.

Kate started the seminar by discussing various brands and talked about the importance of companies being passionate and consistent with their offering. Did you know that 70 per cent of consumers said that they would avoid buying a product if they didn't like the brand behind the product? What about the fact that a child will recognise 236 brands by the time they are aged two? No, neither did I, but it was all really interesting and I learnt a lot.

That old saying, 'customer is king' really reigned true throughout Kate's presentation. Consumers really do have all the power and Kate encouraged the audience to consider their customer's wants and needs in all aspects of their business, adding that focus groups are an inexpensive and effective way to get inside the mind of your customer.

Using Apple and Disney as leading examples, Kate talked about how company culture, productivity and overall employee happiness stem directly from how much training, responsibility and empowerment a company offers. Kate also drummed it into us that good work should be rewarded, as boosting employee morale is an important factor for a company's success and growth.

Do you remember that genius marketing campaign when Selfridges dyed 15 sheep a "Selfridges yellow" to promote its brand and raise awareness of the shearing industry during London's Wool Week? Well Kate used this example to highlight that businesses shouldn't be afraid to try something different, as these are often the ones that will stand out from the crowd and get people talking about your brand.

I left the workshop feeling empowered with a renewed sense of mission and enthusiasm (and a little bit in love with Kate-she is one savvy and very passionate businesswoman).

Marketing Lancashire is running four more of these free (yes FREE!) workshops at various locations around Lancashire throughout September. Aside from the fact that you'll get invaluable information on how to improve your business from one of the world's most influential businesswomen, you also get to eat lots of cake.

To find out more or to register, visit: www.lancashireandblackpool.com/opportunities/retail-workshops

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